Designing the Oscars


The Envelope, Please

In honor of tonight’s Academy Awards, here’s a little revisitation of an Oscar-related post from 2011:

Tomorrow night marks the 83rd annual Academy Awards — an event I admit looking forward to and watching every year. As a kid growing up on the east coast it meant the promise of staying up late — really late, since back then the ceremony always ran long, often well past midnight. In my teen years and early 20s I watched with mixed anticipation and excitement as my parents attended the ceremonies and after parties. These days the Academy Awards mean getting together with friends for an Oscar-inspired potluck where all the dishes are puns of the nominated films and actors. In the past we’ve sipped Steve Martinis (or some years J-lo shots), sampled Leanardo Carpaccio, and enjoyed Annette Beignets. This year I expect someone to offer Black Flan and True Grits. Mmmm.

Over the years, there have been many changes to the Academy Awards production. Last year my friends Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka redesigned the Oscar logo. A year prior, David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, gave the stage production a major overhaul. The change I was most surprised to see this year was the redesign of the famed envelope. Redesign is actually the wrong term, since the envelopes have so far been of the off-the-shelf, office supply store variety.

The live reveal of the award winners by unsealing “the envelope” is both an Oscar tradition an invention, and a critical dramatic moment in each year’s telecast. It’s surprising that it has taken some 70 years for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to finally commission a custom-designed keepsake envelope.

Designed by “stationer to the stars” Marc Friedland, the new envelope is constructed of iridescent gold paper and lined with red paper embossed with gold Oscar statuettes. Inside, a heavy red card frame a smaller white panel which will reveal the winner’s name. The envelopes will be sealed with a red sticker affixed over a red ribbon. The sticker includes the rather cumbersome new PriceWaterhouseCoopers logo.

Friedland says the envelopes and inserts were designed to open quickly and slide out smoothly, ensuring that both will remain as pristine keepsakes.